WINNIPEG – The players are plastic.
The ice is fake.
But the passion in Sal Capizzi’s home is very real.
“I have 23 table hockey games,” said Capizzi. “I didn’t tell that to my fiance when I first met her.”
Capizzi captains the Winnipeg Table Hockey League, an association that allows adults to act like the kids they are at heart.
“None of us were good enough to make the NHL so this is our way of pretending we’re in the NHL,” said Capizzi.
“We would just play and have fun,” said Brian Clement, one of the league’s original six. “More and more people starting playing. Sal’s cousins got older, some of their friends started to come over. It got more serious.”
So did the stakes. Up for grabs each season are bragging rights and a homemade trophy.
“Playing against the big guys, if you knock one of them off it’s a Stanley Cup moment,” said rookie Darren Lincoln.
While the players may be little, their reach is pretty big. There’s table hockey leagues set up across the globe including in places where many might not expect like Ukraine. A world championship is held every two years.
“It’s quite interesting how many people play this game,” said Tony Capizzi, commissioner of the Winnipeg Table Hockey League. “I never would have thought in a million years it was so popular still.”
A following fueled by friendship. Despite it’s growth, the Winnipeg Table Hockey League sticks close to its roots. Each game is played in Sal Capizzi’s basement.
“It’s great to come and watch a game on TV,” said veteran Jason Cesmystruk. “Have a couple drinks and play table hockey with guys you enjoy spending time with.”
The league will host its annual tournament fundraiser this Sunday at Club Regent Casino. All proceeds will be donated to CancerCare Manitoba. More information can be found online on the Winnipeg Table Hockey League’s website.